Thursday, October 28, 2010

Minimalist Lessons Learned While Traveling

We are still traveling for another couple weeks before we head home. Here's some things I have learned about minimalism during our travels:
  • It is perfectly easy, and probably much cheaper, to buy stuff as you go along instead of "stockpiling" a garage full of "good deals". I always thought that I had to stockpile the stuff we use so that we would never run out and so that we could save money on the overall price of the items we buy. I much prefer just buying minimal quantities of items that we use as we have been doing throughout our travels. If the bar of soap is getting small, we buy one more bar of soap. It may cost a few pennies more than buying it on sale but there is less stuff to drag around with you, store, keep track of, etc. Here's an article that explains this theory in detail.
  • I don't need five fleece jackets. Actually I bought one fleece jacket in Atlanta because I knew it would be cold by the time we got to Connecticut. But when I got to Connecticut, I didn't like the way the jacket fit so when I was shopping, I found another fleece jacket that I liked more. Instead of just adding the first jacket to the pile of stuff that I bought, wore once, then didn't wear again but can't seem to part with because I spent my hard earned cash on it, I gave jacket number one to my sister in law. Usually at home, I will buy multiples of one item (a dozen pair of jeans that are the same color but slightly different in design, a shirt that I like so I will by it in multiple colors, etc) but during our travels I have learned that I only need one really good version of each item I own. I need one pair of tennis shoes not eight, I need one super cool scarf, not a whole drawer full of them. And then when I want something new, I need to get rid of the item I already have to make room for the new item. I think this will be my goal from now on.
  • I can shop at Walmart. Actually I do shop at Walmart for household items but never for clothes or shoes. A family member had a birthday party with a '50s theme and since I didn't want to spend much cash on my costume, I decided to go to Walmart, get something cheap to wear once, then give it away. Instead, I picked up a pair of Converse-looking tennis shoes and I have been wearing them every since I bought them! So I guess the moral of this story is that when you are a minimalist, a whole bunch of new learning opportunities can open for you.
  • I don't need much stuff to survive. I need a clean, warm, safe place to stay. It needn't be big, expensive, or fancy. I need a couple of changes of clothes. I need basic toiletries. I need laundry facilities, my computer, and my cell phone. That's about it. I have been living with this small list of items for the last month and have been very happy with such a minimal amount of stuff. I saw this blog post from Evan and couldn't agree more. P.S. Our house is going back on the market the minute we get home!
  • People seem to be happier to have us around than to get the random phone call or gift from us on occasion. People seem to give stuff because they are so busy working to earn money that they don't have time to give of themselves to others. I want to change our lifestyle so that I have more time to give to people rather than working my ass off to earn money to pay for stuff to give them.
  • Perhaps the main thing that changed me from a consumerist to a minimalist was being stuck on the ship for twelve days with only the E! channel on TV. I'd really never watched the E! channel before and I can safely say I would never want to watch it again. Apparently the E! stands for excess. It also seems to promote envy, jealousy, drama, pride, and all of those other items enumerated as "must not do's" in the Bible. It was probably the most horrible array of consumerist behaviours I had ever witnessed and I would never want to be like any of the people who whose every stupid thought was fodder for TV viewers. There is nothing wrong with wanting to look good but the way in which these people express themselves, treat others, speak to others, and crown themselves as the Most Important Person in the Universe worthy of adulation for really no reason at all is just disgusting. Ick.

So from now on I'm a minimalist and proud of it.

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